For the second sail in a month, a Caribbean Princess cruise has had to cut a trip short because hundreds of passengers and crew got sick with norovirus, a contagious stomach bug that causes vomiting and diarrhea.
About 228 passengers and 17 crew members came down with the pesky stomach bug.
The ship, on a 14-day voyage, cut its itinerary short and docked one day early at Port Everglades Saturday morning, WPLG Local 10 reported.
Second shortened voyage
This is the second consecutive Caribbean Princess cruise from Port Everglades in February that had to shave its itinerary after passengers and crew fell sick.
At least 345 passengers and 26 crew members had the same symptoms aboard a cruise that set sail on Feb. 2 and was to return to Fort Lauderdale on Feb. 16. That one came back three days early on Feb. 13, after it was denied entry to ports at Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago because of the outbreak.
This sailing skipped a stop in Aruba Thursday so as to arrive early at Port Everglades on Saturday morning, rather than Sunday, the Sun Sentinel reported.
The ship’s parent company, the Doral-based Carnival Corporation, told the Sentinel Friday it intended to cut this trip short by a day after confirming tests on some of the sick came back as norovirus.
Caribbean Princess’ statement
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“Caribbean Princess has ended its 14-day Caribbean cruise one day early, out of an abundance of caution, due to guests reporting symptoms consistent with mild cases of gastrointestinal illness and confirmed through onboard testing to have been caused by norovirus,” the statement obtained by the Sentinel read.
“Those individuals are being treated by the ship’s medical team, and there are no cases of coronavirus amongst guests or crew,” the statement added. “Norovirus is a common stomach illness prevalent throughout the winter season.”
The Caribbean Princess can hold more than 3,000 passengers and 1,000 crew members.
Mode of transmission
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which worked with Princess Cruises to assess the situation on board the Princess, the bug can be transmitted through contaminated food, water and surfaces and from person-to-person rather easily.
The gastrointestinal bug affects about 20 million people in the U.S. every year, according to the CDC.
Not all the passengers were angry that their trip was cut short.
“It was only one day. No big deal. We had a wonderful cruise,” a passenger said in a WPLG broadcast from Port Everglades’ dock Saturday morning.
“I never washed my hands so often,” a passenger giggled on the dock.
Another, Lovena Fox, told the station crew members took control of the buffet stations and served the passengers to help curb the potential spread of the bug.
But some were irritated during the cruise.
Passenger Sabine Nassar posted on a Caribbean Princess Facebook page on Feb. 21 that communication between crew and customers was lacking.
“There was a single announcement today that people are sick and should stay in their rooms. It was done with a heavy accent and hard to understand. No message in the cabin as to instructions and what is going on and how many people have fallen ill. What do we have to worry about and what do we need to do,” Nassar wrote.
“Frankly, very poor communication, especially considering what happened on the last cruise (that we were never told about from Princess or travel agent). We only found out from other passengers after departure.,” the post continued. “There are some crazy rumours going around. Will this cruise cut short too?”
Refunds and next cruise
Since it was cut short, the cruise line will refund its passengers for a day through a refundable onboard credit and a 25% future cruise credit of the cruise fare paid for this trip and one-night hotel accommodations, the Sentinel reported.
The Caribbean Princess tries for a better third run as it leaves from Port Everglades on its next two-week cruise Sunday.